This intertextual study of decadent (tuifei) poetry demystifies it by the use of tuifei as a critical term and by situating it within a conventional system of signs. The Poetics of Decadence specializes in four major poets right through the Southern Dynasties (420-869) and Late Tang Periods (826-904) when decadent poetry used to be produced in great quantity, namely Xiao Gang, Li He, Wen Tingyun, and Li Shangyin. The writer argues that decadent poetry challenged the canonical concept and practice of poetry as established by “The Great Preface” to The Book of Songs and by the poetry of the Han, Wei, and Jin periods. In so doing, decadent poetry formed a poetic genre with a unique, complex, and self-reflexive verbal system. The rich and complex nature of decadent poetry gives it remarkable resilience in the face of violent condemnation by traditional criticism and allows its successful negotiation with and integration into the canonical tradition. Decadent poetry isn’t a marginal trend as it has been frequently perceived, but somewhat a very important a part of the Chinese poetic tradition.